South Fairmont Arch Bridges

In this video screenshot of footage provided by the West Virginia Department Transportation, powder from the explosives fills the air during the implosion of the southbound portion of the South Fairmont Arch Bridges Wednesday as part of the $72.5 million Interstate 79 widening project.

FAIRMONT — Officials with the West Virginia Department of Transportation are calling Wednesday’s implosion of the South Fairmont Arch Bridges a huge milestone in the $72.5 million Interstate 79 widening project.

The bridges span the Tygart River near the White Hall exit. The southbound bridge was built in 1960 and the northbound bridge was built in 1966.

When complete the widening project will run from Harrison County northward to the Pennsylvania state line.

The section of interstate in Marion County from the South Fairmont exit to the Pleasant Valley exit, where the South Fairmont Arch Bridges sit, is being widened to three lanes in each direction by Pennsylvania-based Swank Construction.

County Route 60, Vinegar Hill Road, was closed until 4 p.m. Wednesday for work crews to remove the existing bridge.

Motorists were advised to plan ahead and allow additional time for their commute.

Only authorized personnel were allowed within the explosives loading and handling area. The charges were not detonated until the area was clear of all traffic and road crews. Shannon North, a senior blaster with Veit & Company Inc. — a subcontractor in charge of the implosion — went door to door to notify nearby residents prior to the explosion, while Swank Construction had two boats on the river to stop boat traffic.

With road and bridge construction projects currently underway around the state, West Virginia Division of Highways reminds motorists to slow down and be aware in work zones.

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